Cathy McFeeters holds a sign during a press conference at the New Hanover County Government Complex
Topsail High School

Opinion: Toxins in drinking water: Unregulated chemicals in our water supply

Reporting from Wilmington, N.C.

The disclosure of the release of harsh chemical GenX into the Cape Fear River from a former Dupont plant has left shocking waves throughout the community. The company—to the people’s disappointment—is not committing to stop the discharge immediately; however, at a recent press conference company officials did say that they are exploring new approaches to the manufacturing process.

Obviously, this discharge needs to stop until we know more about its impacts on the environment. From the river, GenX is getting into tap water, and the possible health effects are a major concern. Federal and state regulators need to venture in and take action. Dupont needs to completely report details of the hazardous discharge and responsibly do more research on GenX before releasing it into our water supply unregulated.

Not surprisingly, the issue is much more complicated than that. GenX is not the only pollutant in our rivers we have to worry about. Industries along the rivers constantly release enormous amounts of untreated wastes and chemicals right into our water. What is probably the most disturbing aspect is the fact that we have so many unanswered questions. Due to limited research, we still do not know all the effects these chemicals have on our health. State regulators do not have enforceable federal standards since many emergent chemicals like GenX are relatively new and have only been commercially produced for a few years.

Just devising more advanced treatments of water is not enough. To fully solve the problem, we need to keep our water clean and healthy in the first place, instead of trying to treat our drinking water after it is polluted.

Our health and the health of future generations are in jeopardy.